Michael Strahan has started on an unprecedented quest of self-discovery to explore his deeply embedded ancestral legacy at the core of American history. The #10MillionNames initiative, Strahan has made a significant step into his history, unearthing the extraordinary story of Shankleville, an East Texas freedom colony.
Strahan was met at Shankleville by newfound cousins Laurita, Stephanie, Billy, and Phillip, who welcomed him as part of their shared heritage.
“Imagine meeting family for the first time in a town steeped in American history, in your history,” Strahan pondered, seeing the distinct link between his own journey and the greater experience of Black Americans.
Shankleville, a “self-sufficient black community” formed from the ashes of slavery, is a symbol of perseverance. The settlement’s origins may be traced back to Strahan’s ancestors, Jim and Winnie Shankle, whose love story is an amazing monument to the human spirit.
Their journey from Mississippi to Texas, facing life-threatening obstacles to reconnect after independence, demonstrates the strength of love and tenacity.
Historians say the 10 million names study reveals that Strahan’s family lineage is intertwined with Shankleville’s amazing past.
This was one of approximately 500 such settlements that offered safe havens for previously enslaved people to construct their own communities, protecting them from the harsh realities of the Jim Crow period.
“As the Civil War ended, Jim and Winnie Shankle were freed from slavery in 1865.” With the money, Jim had saved… “They purchased over four thousand acres and established their own community,” the historical tale reveals.
This enclave included shops, schools, churches, and other facilities, which sharply contrasted the restrictions enforced on other Black Americans at the time.
Strahan’s voyage is a celebration of continuity as much as an inquiry into the past. As he wanders through Shankleville’s sacred grounds, memories of his grandpa, whose legacy he never saw, come to life.
The bond between generations is evident, creating a strong feeling of belonging and recollection.
The Odom Homestead, erected in 1922 by another Shankle relative, is a tribute to the community’s ongoing tradition. Efforts to repair and maintain the home’s history acknowledge the sacrifices and successes of previous generations.
Strahan’s journey is more than just a family history; it represents the necessity of recognizing and preserving African-American heritage.
His meeting with his discovered ancestors, the preservation of ancient structures, and his desire to create a vineyard inside Shankleville’s borders are all testaments to the power of history.
Strahan’s experience with the #10MillionNames initiative highlights the necessity of reclaiming enslaved Black Americans’ names, memories, and accomplishments.
This effort, which aims to trace the ancestors of 10 million previously enslaved people, is changing history by uncovering forgotten stories.
Strahan’s journey highlights the importance of such endeavors, not just for individuals but also for a greater understanding of the American experience.
Viewers may learn more about Michael Strahan’s incredible journey by visiting the Good Morning America website or seeing his story on Nightline.
We must remember that history is a live, breathing link to our origins and common humanity as we research the past, conserve legacies, and develop bridges across generations.